ThinkpadIL wrote on 2022-10-14, 11:24:
Please get me right, I'm not trying to discourage those who are involved in the project or to dissuade anyone from buying it. But I have a question, does such a machine make any sense at all? And the more important question, what kind of neo-retro machine, 8-bit or 16-bit, would actually make sense to you?
A few things come to mind for me:
1. Compatibility with older games. I don't need to expand on this much, as this has been discussed already. Nonetheless, I would also add that I would love to be able to play older Commodore or Atari games on actual hardware. I've been wanting a C64 for awhile, but I don't have the electronics know how to deal with the hassles of fixing any problems that arise. I've seen some tested systems on eBay, but the prices are well outside of my budget. I've come close to buying one a few times, but I worry that I'll pay a decent amount of money for something that won't last that long.
2. An affordable handheld computer. I'm not too big into handheld gaming, but there seemed to be a lot of interest in projects like the Open Pandora that could be used for retro games that needed a keyboard. Unfortunately, that project was fairly expensive iirc.
3. An entirely new "fantasy" console designed with some hardware in mind. The Pico-8 comes to mind:
This project is based on a fantasy console that has never existed. Basically, it wasn't designed to reproduce a console from the past, but was meant to have a lot of the limitations of older consoles like the NES or SNES. This project has been pretty successful despite not being based on an old system that people are nostalgic for. It attracted a pretty decent sized community, so there are a lot of games available for it, which shows you can be successful without having an existing software catalog ready to use. Also, Pico-8 has enough quality of life features that helps keep people interested. For example, anyone can easily open the source code for a game to see how it works or to make changes to the game itself. Also, it uses a scripting language that is more familiar to modern programmers. It also makes downloading games easy because that's built right into the interface.
The more I think of the fantasy console approach, the more I like it. I don't see myself learning Commodore basic, but I already use Python for my job. Instead of finding games on another computer and transferring them over, it would be really convenient to fire up a machine and have the ability to browse games easily from the interface. I could even see multiplayer gaming working with a retro style system over the internet. Because you're not compromising between making something new and also being similar to a specific computer from the past, you can avoid a lot of the problems like finding new hardware that would work with decades old software or any of the licensing issues.
Of course, one major challenge would be building up a sizeable community in the first place. There have been other fantasy consoles, but I don't think any of them were nearly as successful. I think this is in large part to them not being first.